CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A deadline within the Affordable Care Act is fast approaching and thousands of West Virginians, like many more across the country, have still not enrolled for mandated health care insurance.

The enrollment deadline is March 31.

Fred Earley, president of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, said — as of Wednesday — 10,970 West Virginians had enrolled for health care coverage through the federal exchange while another 4,010 West Virginians had independently sought new coverage from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is the only insurance company offering coverage plans in West Virginia through the federal exchange.  The federal exchange provides coverage subsidies to help with the plan costs for those who qualify.

After a slow start because of problems with when the enrollment window first opened last October, “It’s getting better, (but) it’s still not up to where we thought the projections would be,” said Earley.

With less than three weeks remaining until the deadline, Earley said Highmark’s enrollment numbers were, at least, 25 percent below projections.

“There’s still time to come with March,” he said on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”  “Our volumes are still high.  The calls on our dedicated phone lines for this are still coming in pretty heavily, so we’re still anticipating that we’ll get a good bit of surge here over the next three weeks.”

Highmark’s enrollment figures reflect what is happening nationally.

As of earlier this week, 4.2 million total people had enrolled for health care insurance through the federal exchanges which were created in the Affordable Care Act.  It’s off the pace from what the Department of Health and Human Services had originally projected and stands at about 75 percent of the target goal.

People who don’t have health insurance after March 31 may be subjected to tax penalties through the Internal Revenue Service.

Since October, more than 87,000 West Virginians who qualify have enrolled for coverage through the Medicaid expansion.

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  • fed up

    I wonder out of the 10,970 people who signed up on the exchange were forced to because of loosing their existing plan? I would also like to know the number of people like myself whose coverage was "to good" or a Cadillac plan insurance and the Federal Government forced our employer to cut back on benefits or pay a tax. I also hope that all the "haters' of the ACA remember the actions of their elected officials come election day.

  • Voter

    Yes CHIPS covers most of the poor children and is mostly paid by cigarette smokers.

  • DP

    Aaron-relative to your spot on post of 5:17 p.m: I agree with everything you say other than the dollar amount this POS legislation will cost American taxpayers. Ultimately, the WORST LEGISLATION ever passed (rammed through) will end up costing taxpayers AT LEAST hundreds of BILLIONS!!! But with Obummer and the Dems, what's a few 0's when it comes to spending/wasting OUR MONEY???

  • the truth

    You have just over 93000.00 people who have signed up on Medicaid due to the expansion. Lets see how the state budget is going to be when we have to start paying some of the cost it a couple of years. You also have the cost now in which us tax payers pay Medicaid patients mileage to go to the doctor. I believe 47 cents a mile. It is projected to go from 20 million to 37 million in two years.

    • Tom

      Many of those "Medicaid patients" you speak of are babies. I mean, do you really want newborns, children with special needs and chronically ill kids walking around without health insurance? Think about it... hard to do, I know.
      Furthermore, I didn't hear any complaining when the Rethuglican led congress RAMMED through Medicare Part D which was written by the pharmaceutical companies in the dark of night. In fact, is has cost billions more than first projected by the Bush White House. It always interesting to read complaint after complaint about what "we" pay for and what "they" pay for. I can hardly wait for the day when the holier than thou crowd ends up in the unemployment line and the so called welfare line. I mean, you know, those people! Those people are your church members, friends, neighbors and FAMILY members. FYI!!

      • the truth

        Actually it is not with this expansion. They were already covered. The majority are adults without children. I am on the front lines and know. I have no issue with poverty programs but do not kid yourself these entitlement programs have done more to institutionalize poverty than help. I have found that when you give someone something they value it less. Quit complaining about Bush and focus on 90 years of democrat control of this state and Obama who is not competent to run anything.

  • dhhr worker

    I can tell you one thing from working at the dhhr medicaid is booming. For every one person signing up on the exchange there are 100 being approved for Medicaid so much so the state ran out of medical card stock in the middle of the month.

    • Aaron

      There's an enlightening article in how the minimum wage increase can actually lead to less people receiving medicaid and instead qualify for insurance through the public exchange.

      The WV Center for Budget and Policy explains that by pushing these individuals into the exchange, medicaid numbers are reduced but Joe Taxpayer still foots the bill as the newly enrolled insurance recipient only had to pay ~$65 per month for a ~$500 month insurance policy with additional subsidies for co-pay and deductibles.

      One way or another, this bill is going to cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

      • the truth

        Problem is they will just shift to another welfare program called CHIP. Yes, the Childrens Health Insurance Program is just another welfare program because tax payers pay for it.

        • Aaron

          Adults are not eligible for ChiPs.

        • vashti

          as do the people who recieve it. Chip is a graduated program and the recipients pay premiums and co pays. i have no problem supporting people who cannot afford the whole bill but who pay their share because like it or not you pay for those folks thru your taxes or your own increased medical costs.

  • wvrick

    What a joke this president is. Doesn't matter if your a republican or democrat, you have to agree what he has done to the state of WV. EPA laws costing jobs. Cost of electricity, health care, and the war on coal.

  • golfnutwv

    Let me see, 11,000 signed up for insurance coverage they pay for and 87,000 signed up for Medicaid that we pay for. Do you get a free Obama phone with either?

  • Aaron

    Why is anyone surprised at these numbers? When the ACA was passed, 61% of Americans opposed it. The only reason the bill became law is because Democrats were able to push it through reconciliation with no debate in either chamber of Congress. By the time it’s all said and done, this bill will end up costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and will become the single largest tax imposed on the American taxpayer.

    And it does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in reducing the cost of health care. How's that for signature legislation?

    • RogerD

      Aaron, I'm surprised by the numbers. I'm surprised they are as high as reported. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if these reported numbers are inflated. The one thing we should know is that government auditors are quite adept at tweaking numbers in a way to suit their goals.